Emma Raducanu avoided the worst Grand Slam defeat of her career when she battled back from dropping the first set against a 17-year-old Czech qualifier at the French Open. The US Open champion was in serious danger of slipping out of the tournament in the rain against the inspired world No 184 Linda Noskova when she lost an opening tiebreak.
But the world No 12 finally took her fourth set point to level the match. And Raducanu finally found her feet on the clay to battle to victory 6-7, 7-5, 6-1 against the brave Czech. The Bromley teenager, who made her full French Open debut on Court Simone-Mathieu, said: “It was an incredible atmosphere. Honestly I don’t have any expectations of myself.
“I am just happy to be here competing after Rome. I have fought hard to be here and I am just looking forward to staying here as long as I can.” Raducanu added: “It was an absolute battle. I have to say Linda is playing some amazing tennis and she really came out there firing.
“As soon as I dropped my ball speed, she was all over me and killing me from the end of the first set. So, it was definitely really challenging in the second set to hold on and keep holding my serve and break back a couple of times. I am really proud of the way I fought but all clocks to Linda as she played an amazing match.
And the British No 1 lost her concentration and her lead – and then the tiebreak. Raducanu had retired from her last match at the Rome Masters with a lower back problem but she reported she had recovered for Roland Garros and had started a new gym regime to build up her strength.
But she could not handle Noska’s weight of shot for much of a rollercoaster encounter which saw 11 breaks of serve. In the second set, Raducanu came back to level the match after conceding two breaks but Noskova saved three set points before the Brit took her fourth with an audacious drop shot.
The world No 12 dropped only one game in the deciding set and Raducanu took her first match point with a forehand crosscourt winner – and gave a double fist pump in celebration.
She will next face Belarusian Aliaksandra Sasnovich who beat Raducanu at Indian Wells in her first match after the US Open last year.